PUEBLO, Colo. - - It's a new chapter in the Steel City, a historic clean energy announcement was made this morning between Xcel Energym EVRAZ North America and Lightsource BP to build a 240-megawatt solar panel farm to power Pueblo’s Rocky Mountain Steel Mill.
Speakers at Monday's announcement claim that project, called the Bighorn Solar facility, is the largest solar facility east of the Rocky Mountains.
“If you were wondering what renewable energy future would look like, this is a great example,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.
The Bighorn Solar facility will deliver clean, cost-effective energy to the EVRAZ steel mill facility in Pueblo.
All the electricity generated by the solar panels will be sold to Excel Energy to run a majority of the EVRAZ steel mill facility. The project will be located on the steel mill property making it the largest on-site solar facility dedicated to a single customer in the country.
Lightsource BP, who is constructing and funding the project, says the project will cost $250 million. It would also generate $20 million in property tax revenue to Pueblo.
Kevin Smith, Lightsource BP Chief Executive of the Americas, says the solar project will secure jobs at the steel mill while bringing in jobs as well. Around 300 contractors will be brought in to build the panels. Once construction is complete, only 15 to 20 will remain to operate and maintain the panels.
“We are now taking established technologies that have been around and merging that with new technologies that provide cost-effective and clean energy," said Smith. "As technologies improve over the next few decades, this energy project will be here for the long term. It could be here for the next 50-75 years.”
For Polis, this project gives Pueblo and the state of Colorado an advantage on the global market when it comes to steel.
“By working together we can make change work for us rather than against us," said Polis. "We can lead boldly into the future and create good jobs, create low-cost energy, and cleaner air. All while doing our part on climate.”
“Today is also a celebration of the workforce," said Sen. Cory Gardner at Friday's unveiling. "Without the confidence and the strength of the workforce here in Pueblo they might’ve made these investments somewhere else. This mill might not be growing in the future or perhaps they’d look to somewhere else. But it’s happening in Pueblo because of the talent the hard work, and the great people who come here each and every day making it possible to help build our economies of steel.”
Lighthouse BP says they will begin building the large project next year. The hope is to have the solar panels generating power for the steel mill by 2021.